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Expat question...Destination-Canada
Old 03-20-2015, 12:27 AM   #1
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Expat question...Destination-Canada

This is going to be long… But I would like to solicit some ideas/opinions/thoughts/options here. Maybe some of you expats have dealt with something like this before?

I am a US citizen. I currently live in California. My husband is Canadian living in the Toronto area. He is sponsoring me to come live in Canada, but it will probably take several more months for the PR (Permanent Residency) to be granted (hopefully by August or September, but you never know about those things until it actually happens… Having said that, if my PR comes through at the normal, average speed, I will get mine by August.). We have been spending about a week together every two months the last 2 years.

I gave notice at work a while back and I will be leaving my work shortly. I really, really wanted to hold off on resigning until PR came through, but I just couldn't – I had some health scares while having a lot of stressful events at work, and I decided to pull the plug sooner so I could be closer to my hubby full time sooner..).. Anyway, so, until my PR comes through, I see two options, but I am not sure which would be better or if I can find a better way to handle some conditions. I am hoping some of you could share your experience or opinions. I need to think through some points especially because Canada immigration seems to be very stringent on determining who to let in for how long. They want to make sure whoever comes in, leaves within a said time frame and they want to see proof that you have strong ties to your own country (employment/pay stubs, residence/mortgage). (This seems to depend on which officer you get…) Anyways, here are the options:

1) Pack my stuff and put it in storage in Buffalo, NY or Niagara Falls and find myself an apartment there. Drive into Canada and stay with my hubby maybe one month at a time and come back for a couple of days to the apartment on the US side to get mail and run errands like Dr’s appointments.

PROS – Straight forward. (I will find an apartment before I leave CA and forward the address to the new address, etc)
PROS - I can show the rental agreement at the border (one piece of evidence I can show to them - See I have all the intention to come back to the US. I am only *visiting* Canada..)
CONS – It will cost me $800-$1000 per month rent.
CONS – I will have to get a NY Drivers license and registration/license plates (which seems like a pain since I will only be there for just a few months, but I’ve been told it would be a red flag to try to pass the border in a CA plated car while your residence is in Buffalo, so that’s why I will change the DL/license plates.)

2) Pack my stuff and put the stuff in storage in NY (same as Option 1) but instead of finding an apartment there, I will go visit my hubby in Canada (fly into Canada from CA) and stay there until PR comes though.

PROS – I won’t have to spend the extra $800-$1000 for the apartment in Buffalo/Niagara Falls, NY. (Huge saving)
CONS - I don't have the piece of paper (rental agreement) to show at the border.
CONS – Storage will cost more because I will have to store my car there also. (I will just leave the car with CA registration in that case.) I am not sure how much it costs to store a car, but probably much less that the amount of $ I am saving by not renting an apartment.
CONS – I am not sure what I will do with my address. I can get a UPS store address near where I currently live and do an address forward to the UPS store address from my current CA address until I am an PR in Canada… And I could have one of my friends check my mail at the UPS store, and sift through my mail to see if there is anything important…
CONS – I probably shouldn't cross the border to the US until my PR is finalized since without a job and without a rental agreement to show, they may not want to let me back in the country (This will all depend on the immigration officer, is what I’ve been told). Which means I don’t know what to do with the Dr situation. I can always get a traveler’s insurance inside the country, and pay out of pocket to visit a Dr. for any non-emergency ailments (flu, etc). I will still keep paying for my Cobra just in case I need real coverage and if I do need a serious medical attention which is not covered by the traveler’s insurance, I can always come back to the US to get treatment?

I am sure I am forgetting a bunch of other details, but this is it for tonight.

Any comments would be GREATLY appreciated.
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Old 03-20-2015, 06:39 AM   #2
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Lucky you to be moving to Canada! The winters really aren't as bad as people think

I'm a Canadian ex-pat who moved to the US over two decades ago so, unfortunately, I can't answer your questions directly.

Have you met with a lawyer to discuss your options? At this stage in the game, I wouldn't want to do anything that could put my plans in jeopardy.

If you don't have a lawyer, look for a Canadian ex-pat group in your area. Many Canadian ex-pats have to deal with cross border and immigration issues (going in both directions) and would know of a lawyer for you.
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Old 03-20-2015, 07:12 AM   #3
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Your life is complicated right now!

Have you contacted Citizenship and Immigration Canada to ask your specific questions?

Guide 5289 - Spouse or Common-Law Partner in Canada Class

I came to Canada many years ago on a work permit and my second employer sponsored me for immigration on the skilled worker program. I have no personal experience of family class sponsorship. I've heard some people talk about sponsoring relatives while they are abroad, and some are advised to enter Canada to facilitate the process, depending on the circumstances.

During the immigration process, you may be requested to attend an interview at a consulate of CIC's choosing. For example, while working in Manitoba, I was called to an interview at the Canadian consulate in Minneapolis. Based on the experience of a colleague at work I had anticipated that they would grant me PR status at that time, but they did not, despite a very positive interview. About six months later, the documents appeared in the mail. I then had to leave Canada and reenter as a Landed Immigrant (I drove to North Dakota).

It seems to me that moving long distance within the U.S. during this process might unnecessarily complicate your situation. You risk missing a time sensitive mailing, and you might have to fly back to California to be interviewed at the consulate in LA. The workings of CIC sometimes have no obvious rhyme or reason to the customer.

I agree with Marketwatcher that a lawyer's opinion may be helpful.

Whatever happens, I hope you and DH are soon happily reunited in Toronto. Welcome to Canada!
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Old 03-20-2015, 09:36 AM   #4
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You need to ask your questions to the Canadian immigration folks. They will tell you what you are supposed to do. You can visit as a tourist for 180 days, but watch out for your tax residency status. I'm sure you know that immigration is just the beginning of your issues and that your taxes will become more complicated as you try to satisfy both the IRS and the Canadian tax authority Also make sure you understand what happens wrt Medicare if you move outside the USA.
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Old 03-20-2015, 12:07 PM   #5
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I'm a CDN expat and now also have US citizenship. I always thought it would be fairly easy for both my spouse (a US citizen) and I to move to Canada if we wanted. Now I know not true! Have lived in Toronto...as well as in Manitoba and British Columbia. I am surprised that since you are married to a CDN citizen you cannot move there while waiting for official approval on some sort of visa...as long as you dont work ...something they would consider as depriving a CDN of a job, especially since your immigration will be approved eventually. Its definitely important to be careful to retain any status allowing you return to the US. Remember when I Just had my Greencard...worried about it every time I left the country. Important to keep your options open.



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Old 03-20-2015, 12:21 PM   #6
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Thank you very much for all the replies. There is a couple of things I didn't consider that was mentioned here.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Marketwatcher View Post
Have you met with a lawyer to discuss your options? At this stage in the game, I wouldn't want to do anything that could put my plans in jeopardy.

If you don't have a lawyer, look for a Canadian ex-pat group in your area. Many Canadian ex-pats have to deal with cross border and immigration issues (going in both directions) and would know of a lawyer for you.
I never thought of getting a lawyer, although I see that some have done it. I am doing things on the cheap, I guess, but I might look into to it just to make sure I am not off base with anything I am trying to do.

I have been frequenting one forum that has a lot of activities and posting questions. I still wanted to ask questions here though since we have a lot of intelligent people here from all walks of life.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meadbh View Post

During the immigration process, you may be requested to attend an interview at a consulate of CIC's choosing. For example, while working in Manitoba, I was called to an interview at the Canadian consulate in Minneapolis. Based on the experience of a colleague at work I had anticipated that they would grant me PR status at that time, but they did not, despite a very positive interview. About six months later, the documents appeared in the mail. I then had to leave Canada and reenter as a Landed Immigrant (I drove to North Dakota).

Yes, some do get interviews, but it is very rare for a US citizen to have to go to an interview, is what I've been told, at least for spousal sponsorship. As for mailing, I can change the mailing address to my husband's address on the application by emailing the CIC office with my application ID (evidently CIC doesn't mind that). Most of the communication happens via email, however.

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Originally Posted by itsmyparty View Post
I'm a CDN expat and now also have US citizenship. I always thought it would be fairly easy for both my spouse (a US citizen) and I to move to Canada if we wanted. Now I know not true! Have lived in Toronto...as well as in Manitoba and British Columbia. I am surprised that since you are married to a CDN citizen you cannot move there while waiting for official approval on some sort of visa...as long as you dont work ...something they would consider as depriving a CDN of a job, especially since your immigration will be approved eventually. Its definitely important to be careful to retain any status allowing you return to the US. Remember when I Just had my Greencard...worried about it every time I left the country. Important to keep your options open.
It is true that I want to tread carefully since what I've found out that once you are taken into a secondary at Immigration, you're marked and most likely get more questions asked for every entry. Having said this, how you get treated at the border evidenly depends a whole lot on which immigration officer you get - Some people breeze through it while others get stopped and scrutinized. And it's always much easier for someone who already has a PR application submitted (and the fees paid) as in my case (My husband got an email from them saying he has been approved as a sponsor.)

Another thing - I was surprised that we had to answer a lot of essay type questions in our application to prove our relationship was genuine as well as sending photos, a list of names of people who attended the wedding, etc, etc. I guess there is a lot of fraud going on and that is making the process longer and harder for everyone else...But I get it.
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Old 03-20-2015, 12:46 PM   #7
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Another thing - I was surprised that we had to answer a lot of essay type questions in our application to prove our relationship was genuine as well as sending photos, a list of names of people who attended the wedding, etc, etc. I guess there is a lot of fraud going on and that is making the process longer and harder for everyone else...But I get it.
This type of scrutiny is not new, nor is it specific to Canada.

Years ago, my cousin married a US citizen and immigrated to the US. Both he and his DW were required to provide written and oral evidence to support the fact that theirs was a genuine love match and not a green card scam. They were interviewed separately and their responses were compared. His green card application was submitted while he was in the US and he could not leave the country (even for a family funeral) until it was complete.
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Old 03-20-2015, 01:51 PM   #8
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This type of scrutiny is not new, nor is it specific to Canada.

Years ago, my cousin married a US citizen and immigrated to the US. Both he and his DW were required to provide written and oral evidence to support the fact that theirs was a genuine love match and not a green card scam. They were interviewed separately and their responses were compared. His green card application was submitted while he was in the US and he could not leave the country (even for a family funeral) until it was complete.
I immigrated to the US over 30 years ago (with my ex who is a US citizen). We had absolutely nothing that we had to prove - no interviews, no essays to write or photos to submit - Just a physical and the police check.

I watched the movie Green Card a few years later, and I was like "that doesn't happen!" I guess time has changed.
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Old 03-20-2015, 02:02 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by tmm99 View Post
I immigrated to the US over 30 years ago (with my ex who is a US citizen). We had absolutely nothing that we had to prove - no interviews, no essays to write or photos to submit - Just a physical and the police check.

I watched the movie Green Card a few years later, and I was like "that doesn't happen!" I guess time has changed.
My cousin's experience was in the 1980s. I doubt it would be easier now.

The bottom line is that you don't want to annoy immigration officials. Just make it easy for them to prove the application.
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Old 03-20-2015, 02:13 PM   #10
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I know some Chinese folks that got a Canadian green card, while living in the US, as a backup plan while they applied and got Green Card and then citizenship.
So scams are being run.

Be sure to always take photos (like selfies) that show both of you in the picture whenever vacationing. Its amazing if you check your photos how few you will find of the 2 of you together.

Interviews in the US are pretty standard now, and you have to show photos of togetherness over the years. Plus they try to trip you up by asking each person, "who is that in the picture" when photos include others.
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Old 03-20-2015, 02:15 PM   #11
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My cousin's experience was in the 1980s. I doubt it would be easier now.



The bottom line is that you don't want to annoy immigration officials. Just make it easy for them to prove the application.

Wow. Really! Mine was in 1983 and it was just a physical and the police check only. Maybe your cousin's was in the late 80's.


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Old 03-20-2015, 02:19 PM   #12
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I'm surprised that you think you cannot live in Canada while waiting for PR.
However I have not read the details of sponsoring a spouse in Canada.

Be sure (if you have not already done so) to check out this link, as the rules changed in 2014, and may assist you. This is the Canadian govt website.

Family sponsorship
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Old 03-20-2015, 02:21 PM   #13
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Was a time, when crossing the Canada-US border into the States, (around Niagara Falls/Buffalo anyway), they'd just ask "Where were you born?" (and generally never bothered about asking for proof).
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Old 03-20-2015, 02:22 PM   #14
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Wow. Really! Mine was in 1983 and it was just a physical and the police check only. Maybe your cousin's was in the late 80's.


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No, my cousin's US immigration process started about 1981 and I believe was completed about 1984, by which time he and DW had become parents.

It's a different experience for every immigrant. As far as I can see it can vary according to the country of origin, type of application, occupation, completeness of documentation, current immigration priorities, and the whim of the official who is most responsible.
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Expat question...Destination-Canada
Old 03-20-2015, 02:22 PM   #15
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Expat question...Destination-Canada

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sunset View Post
I know some Chinese folks that got a Canadian green card, while living in the US, as a backup plan while they applied and got Green Card and then citizenship.
So scams are being run.

Be sure to always take photos (like selfies) that show both of you in the picture whenever vacationing. Its amazing if you check your photos how few you will find of the 2 of you together.

Interviews in the US are pretty standard now, and you have to show photos of togetherness over the years. Plus they try to trip you up by asking each person, "who is that in the picture" when photos include others.
Yep we had to submit photos.
I have been told there are some things they consider as red flags. For example, a huge age difference. Another one - one spouse being much better looking than the other. I was like WHAT!!! Who's is to say?



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Old 03-20-2015, 03:51 PM   #16
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Was a time, when crossing the Canada-US border into the States, (around Niagara Falls/Buffalo anyway), they'd just ask "Where were you born?" (and generally never bothered about asking for proof).
Last time I crossed (WA/BC border) they did ask a bit more than this but really it is still not the 3rd degree. And it has always been my experience that crossing via car was less subject to scrutiny than via plane. I would be surprised if you had to go through hoops you seem to suggest. It may not be entirely honest but you could simply say you are visiting relatives for a few weeks. If you are flying they can check the return date on the ticket but it's harder to do that on a car .

I used to work in Niagara Falls Ont and worked in NF NY as well. This was pre 911 but we didn't have vias and we just said we were visiting friends. Sometimes we did this multiple times a week and it wasn't ever a problem (though eventually we did get H1's).

Of course if you tell them you are visiting your husband who lives in TO they might get a tad suspicious. I did some preliminary checking and I didn't get the impression that taking residence in Canada would be that big of a deal for my wife (I am CDN but live in US) but admittedly have not done a lot of work on it because my wife is cool to the idea
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Old 03-20-2015, 04:04 PM   #17
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No, my cousin's US immigration process started about 1981 and I believe was completed about 1984, by which time he and DW had become parents.

It's a different experience for every immigrant. As far as I can see it can vary according to the country of origin, type of application, occupation, completeness of documentation, current immigration priorities, and the whim of the official who is most responsible.
You are right - there are so many factors involved and some of the factors and how applications get flagged is a mystery. And I am certain it also depends on which officer works on your application. I am hoping I get a slacker!
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Old 03-20-2015, 04:14 PM   #18
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Last time I crossed (WA/BC border) they did ask a bit more than this but really it is still not the 3rd degree. And it has always been my experience that crossing via car was less subject to scrutiny than via plane. I would be surprised if you had to go through hoops you seem to suggest. It may not be entirely honest but you could simply say you are visiting relatives for a few weeks. If you are flying they can check the return date on the ticket but it's harder to do that on a car .

I used to work in Niagara Falls Ont and worked in NF NY as well. This was pre 911 but we didn't have vias and we just said we were visiting friends. Sometimes we did this multiple times a week and it wasn't ever a problem (though eventually we did get H1's).

Of course if you tell them you are visiting your husband who lives in TO they might get a tad suspicious. I did some preliminary checking and I didn't get the impression that taking residence in Canada would be that big of a deal for my wife (I am CDN but live in US) but admittedly have not done a lot of work on it because my wife is cool to the idea
I think most of the time, it's quick, but I guess I am a bit paranoid now. When I was still dating my husband (he has come see me more often and he never had trouble at US immigration), one time I was asked "Oh you are here to see your boyfriend. How long have you been dating? How did you two meet? How often do you see him?" I am a private person (This was a woman asking me, but still), and I have a very hard time having to answer questions of personal nature like that (while standing in line with a bunch of strangers to boot). I feel like saying something sarcastic back like "And yes we even have sex!!!!" but of course, I don't. I am at their mercy.
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Old 03-20-2015, 04:26 PM   #19
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I think most of the time, it's quick, but I guess I am a bit paranoid now. When I was still dating my husband (he has come see me more often and he never had trouble at US immigration), one time I was asked "Oh you are here to see your boyfriend. How long have you been dating? How did you two meet? How often do you see him?" I am a private person (This was a woman asking me, but still), and I have a very hard time having to answer questions of personal nature like that (while standing in line with a bunch of strangers to boot). I feel like saying something sarcastic back like "And yes we even have sex!!!!" but of course, I don't. I am at their mercy.
Immigration officers are not your friends. The best approach is to answer their questions politely, but not to joke or to offer more information than requested. Try not to appear nervous, as that may be a red flag to them.
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Old 03-20-2015, 11:46 PM   #20
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Immigration officers are not your friends. The best approach is to answer their questions politely, but not to joke or to offer more information than requested. Try not to appear nervous, as that may be a red flag to them.
That sounds about right.
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